With only one start in 2013, and seven months ago at that, one of the most exciting horses of the past few years has become a bit of a forgotten star. That should change this week, with the long awaited return of My Miss Aurelia is set to happen this Thursday at Belmont Park. The filly that nearly repeated her Eclipse Award of 2011, with another in 2012, is scheduled to run in the $100,000 Punkin Pie overnight stakes, a $100,000 affair for fillies and mares who haven't won a stakes in 2013.
Not only will the Punkin Pie be My Miss Aurelia’s first race since March the 16th, but it will also mark her first start for a new barn. The daughter of Smart Strike was transferred from the Steve Asmussen yard, for whom she has made all of her nine lifetime starts, to that of the nation’s leading trainer, Todd Pletcher. Pletcher feels she is ready to run, and could be quickly looking for bigger things for the classy mare.
"We were just looking for somewhere for her to bring her back off a long layoff," said Pletcher. "We can see where she is in her training. She's indicated to us that she has trained very well and is ready to get started again. We're trying to get back on track and see where she is in terms of future races."
If things go as smoothly as hoped in the Punkin Pie, the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap over Thanksgiving weekend will likely be her first major target as a Pletcher trainee. The Go For Wand, formerly known as the Maskette, will be contested at one-mile over Aqueduct’s main track.
Owned in partnership by Stonestreet Farm and George Bolton, My Miss Aurelia was perfect in four starts at two. Dominating victories in a maiden, the Adirondack, the Frizette, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies made her the only possible choice for Champion Two-year-old Filly of 2011. After a lengthy layoff to recover from a physical setback, My Miss Aurelia made her first return to the races at Saratoga last summer.
A good win in the 6 ½ furlong Mandy’s Gold Stakes sent her into a Grade 1 showdown against the red-hot, Questing, in the Cotillion at Parx. A memorable stretch drive concluded with a narrow, but impressive victory for My Miss Aurelia. She then entered last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff perfect in six starts. She was in it at the top of the lane, but the older, and defending champ, Royal Delta proved too much down the Santa Anita lane. Still though, the second place finish for the lightly raced three-year-old filly was nothing but a positive.
One final race at the end of 2012, in hopes of clinching another championship, ended with a third place finish. The loss, to top female sprinters, Book Review and Reneesgotzip, in the seven furlong, and Grade 1 La Brea, ended her hopes of a second Eclipse Award. That brings us back to 2013, where My Miss Aurelia has only a disappointing third place finish in the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park to show for the season.
Something tells me that her winless record this year will not survive the week. My Miss Aurelia is back, where I expect she will likely return to her place as one of America's best.